Ariel Ben Avraham – Ecclesiastes: The illusion of vanity and the reality of love (VI)
“There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and make his soul enjoy goodness in his labor. This also I saw, that it [goodness as our labor] is from the hand of God. For who can eat, or who can have enjoyment, more than I?” (2:24-25)
We have said often that the man who understood the Torah the best is King David, and the proof of that is his book of Psalms from which his heir also learned part of his great wisdom. The psalmist recalls frequently that God’s creation came from His eternal loving kindness, and from this we realize that the latter is the cause and purpose of all that exists. Hence goodness is for which we labor in this world to also be our food and drink that make us enjoy life, for goodness comes from the Creator.
The last part of the second verse should not be understood as an arrogant statement by King Solomon. We must understand every statement in the Hebrew Bible in the context where is mentioned. He is telling us that because of his full awareness of the goodness coming out of God, he is the one who enjoys it the most as his food and drink. The more we are aware of God’s love in all His creations, the more we delight in His love.
“For to a man who is good before Him, He has given wisdom, and knowledge, and joy; and to a sinner He has given travail, to gather and to heap up, to give to the one who is good before God. Even this is vanity and vexation of spirit.” (2:26)
Again we are reminded that wisdom, knowledge and joy are inherent in goodness, and also are its rewards. From this we learn that goodness doesn’t exist without wisdom and knowledge as its ethical frames in which we find joy.
“For the Lord gives wisdom, from His mouth knowledge and understanding.”
The “sinner” is one who pursues ego’s fantasies and illusions for which he toils and wastes his life gathering and piling up material possessions that eventually will end up in the hands of those who God sees proper give. Solomon repeatedly insists that the travails of fantasies and illusions are vanity and a vexation to the spirit that sustains life. We can also understand the “sinners” as the negative traits and trends that will end up serving the purpose of goodness as God promised for the Messianic age.
“To everything [there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heavens. A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
We know that life is a learning process since we are born, and we are destined to go through stages that enable us to ascend in understanding, awareness, knowledge and wisdom which lead us by and for goodness in life as our “every purpose under the heavens” in the material world.
In regards to the last part of this verse, it refers to planting goodness in order to harvest goodness, for we already know that whatever we reap what we sow.
“A time to slay and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up.” (3:2-3)
We must not take “to slay” literally, for the context of the phrase is to counter balance or correct a negative action. Hence “slaying” refers to the damage we may cause physically, mentally or emotionally on us or onto others, and the next phrase has the same meaning and message.
As we mentioned before, life is a learning process that God wants us to experience as much as we can in order to assimilate goodness in contrast to wickedness. This may be a painful process because the endure suffering as a result of living with a negative and destructive approach to life out of ego’s materialistic fantasies and illusions.
The Creator also wants us learn not only from goodness but also from the negative choices He presents before us in order to choose always goodness in all its forms, ways and expressions.
“Come, let us return to the Lord, for He has torn us but He has healed us. He has wounded us but He has bandaged us.” (Hosea 6:1)
“Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness. Behold, we come to You, for You are the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 3:22)
We can understand this also as a refining and strengthening journey toward appreciating the expanding qualities of goodness in human consciousness that God will reveal for us in the Messianic times.
“He will revive us after two days, [and] He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him.” (Hosea 6:2)
The prophet Hosea reminds us that after the destruction of the second Temple of Jerusalem (“one day” for each Temple), God will appear to us in the Third and eternal Temple for us to live (dwell) before Him forever. In those Messianic times we will live only to know abundantly our Creator “as the waters cover the bed of the oceans”.
Ariel Ben Avraham’s book on the Jewish conception of God’s love according to the Hebrew Scriptures and Jewish theology. How we relate to God’s love as our common bond with Him. You can order the book directly from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. From the book: “Let’s be aware that we are emanated from God’ love. Whatever we are and have come from Him and it is His, including the love that we are and give. Love is our essence and identity.”
Kochav Yaakov, Shomron (Samaria), IsraelAriel Ben Avraham (f. Zapata) was born in Cartagena, Colombia in 1958. After studying Cultural Anthropology in Bogotá moved to Chicago in 1984 where he worked as a television writer, reporter and producer for 20 years. In the 1990’s he produced video documentaries related to art, music, history and culture such as “Latin American Trails: Guatemala” distributed by Facets.org. Most of his life he studied ancient spiritual traditions and mysticism of major religions, understanding the mystic experience as the individual means to connect with the Creator of all. Since 2004 he studies and writes about Jewish mysticism and spirituality mainly derived from the Chassidic tradition, and the practical philosophy of the teachings of Jewish mystic sages. The book “God’s Love” is the compilation of many years studying and learning Jewish mysticism. The messages of his book are part of the content, exercises and processes of a series of seminars, lectures and retreats that he facilitates in Israel.